The Erosion of Political Responsiveness and the Stretching of Populism: Latin America in Comparative Perspective

Friday March 27, 2020
1501, International Affairs Building

Conference Description

Latin America is the region of the developing world with the most continuous and extensive experience with democracy. The promise of democratization that characterized the third wave has seen several regional trends that built into a historical legacy of shared political experiences since early decolonization in the nineteen century. Since independence, Latin American young republics promised popular sovereignty to different degrees but often failed to delivered on those promises. This conference seeks to investigate the linkage between popular discontent, polarization, and the emerging of ‘populist’ options that stretch across very different political offers.  The legacy of a ‘populist’ historical experiences in Latin America and its implications for sociocultural and economic inclusion of subordinate sectors including in terms of art and urbanization is crucial to understand contemporary political and societal expectations. The tensions between the experience recognized as ‘populist’ in the region with many aspects of liberal democracy is also important to understand what are its implications as the concept is stretched to include very different policies in other regions of the world and even in Latin America. The panels are thus organized to assess those historical legacies the entrance of ‘the people’ in the Latin American political arena and its policy and sociocultural implications as well as contemporary changes in society and voters’ demand for responsiveness. We also seek to understand the supply provided by political systems to these demands in terms of its connections to the citizenry. The last panel seeks to put the Latin American experience in comparative context to assess what are the lessons and what can be learned from other regions where popular discontent has led to political offers also classified as ‘populists’, which even when different in policy content may have generated similar challenges to crucial political institutions of liberal democracy. Among the speaker highlights are included Saskia Sassen and Jorge Castaneda.This conference is a collaborative initiative with NYU´s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS).

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